A field key to the trees and shrubs in the Jabiru area

Supervising Scientist Report 187
K Brennan
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2007
ISSN 1325-1554
ISBN-13: 978-1-921069-01-7
ISBN-10: 1-921069-01-5

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Introduction

The aim of this field key is to provide a practical tool for identifying trees and shrubs in the Jabiru area. It has been developed for staff at the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss), Ranger uranium mine and in Kakadu National Park who need to know the local vegetation. However, it should also be useful to other residents and visitors in the area including teachers, students, special interest tour groups or anyone else with a natural history bent and an interest in plants. A formal botanical background is not required to be able to use the key.

A feature of the key is that identification is achieved by using characters associated with leaves, bark, plant form and the habitat of each species. This approach is very different from traditional taxonomic keys where identification is highly dependent on characters [often microscopic] associated with flowers and fruit. While such keys work well for research taxonomists backed by extensive herbarium facilities, they are usually a major source of frustration to the rest of us, faced with the unfortunate reality that at any one time only a small number of the species in an area will be flowering or fruiting. The case for developing this field key was further driven by my own conviction as a field botanist, that almost all trees and shrubs can be confidently identified either to species, or to a manageable group containing a small number of species, before needing to use floral characters.

Finally I hope that this key, by providing a capacity to recognise the diversity of trees and shrubs in the Jabiru area, will also help to foster a greater appreciation of the richness of the plant-life throughout the rest of the Kakadu region.

Kym Brennan